Ah that elusive concept of healthy eating......Seriously though, I bet if I asked you your thoughts, you would already have a pretty rounded picture of what to eat/not eat. Sure there are nuances we start to get into to balance the various macro nutrients for training needs, for lifestyle preferences, for body type etc but the basic premise that rounds out all of it is education and trial & error.
There is no magic formula.
Probably the biggest mistake I encounter is people making it too complicated; trying to track macros, eat very restrictive foods, set unreasonable targets and so on....we've all been there.
So I am going to hopefully shed some light on all of this in the forthcoming emails but I promise you the best thing you can do right now is make healthy eating SIMPLE.
Below are some ideas to help you get started. Given that motivation is so high right now with it being January and all, I suggest you try to implement as many of these as you feel is realistic to your lifestyle.....don't do it all just for the sake of it because that will be a disaster but motivation will be a massive help right now to take action and hopefully keep going to make it a habit!
1. Nutribullet & Freezer Bags
No surprise here that a smoothie is both a really easy meal and a great way to pack in the fruit/veg. The main points to note:
- Always some protein: protein powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds or chicken breast (JOKE).
- Choose your liquid wisely: Avoid fruit juice & cow's milk in favour of water, coconut water, nut milk or even cold brew coffee.
- Always more veg than fruit: Try spinach, avocado, carrot, beetroot, celery.
- Here's one: lemon, water, green apple, dill, pink salt, cayenne, avocado, ice
Top tip: When I come home from my grocery shop, I like to prep all my ingredients there and then - chop my apple/banana/avocado/celery etc - and portion these out into freezer zip lock bags which I then immediately freeze. That way all I have to do is take one bag out, add nut milk and whizz it up. It makes the smoothie super cold and creamy too!
2. Slow Cooker
If you're not in the mood for a cold drink.....then the slow cooker is a great option! I am addicted for the simple reason that for zero hassle, I can have a ready meal waiting for me when I get home from work. You can cook so many things - lemon chicken, stews, curry, chilli, broth, soups.....even slow cooked oats!
Put all ingredients in, turn it on and come back 6 hours later. It's doesn't get easier.
3. The Magic of the Ice Tray (links to my pinterest page)
There are some great uses for this little kitchen item....
One of the easiest ways to add flavour to your meals is bone broth - why not freeze leftovers from the slow cooker as you go.
Or just chop and freeze your herbs in olive oil to pop into soups or stews!
Why not try flavoured ice cubes - water/chopped melon/chopped cucumber/mint - cut up and put into tray. Great way to spice up your water.
You could try lemon cubes - I explained this one here.
Oh and the final secret -frozen coffee ice cubes to add into a bit of baileys. You could also freeze left over wine for stews.
Maybe some green tea, ginger ice cubes to pop into your smoothie.
Do this once a month and you're all set up!
4. The Condiments/Herbs & Spices
I get that trying to eat healthy can sometimes be a bit bland...especially while your taste buds re-adjust and you figure out what the heck to eat. But adding some sauce can really help....it's just about knowing the right kinda sauce to add.......
Most dressings/curries/pasta sauces/condiments come with a heap load of sugar and a heap load of unnecessary ingredients. My top two winners are:
- French's Mustard
- Frank's Hot Sauce
- I can't do soya sauce (gluten) but liquid aminos or coconut aminos taste identical
- Homemade salsa: tomato or mango
- Guacamole - homemade. Store bought have a lot of bad stuff
- Raita - basically good quality yogurt with chopped mint and cucumber
- Garlic butter
- A really good relish or chutney
- Pickles/gherkins/sauerkraut/red onion marmalade
- My magic vinaigrette: Whisk in bowl or even better a nutri bullet; fine chopped garlic, olive oil, squeeze lemon, apple cider vinegar....you could add tiny bit of honey if you're craving sweet. If you're a hard gainer, you could add some almond butter or tahini.
Game changing tip: Aldi do amazing pre chopped herbs in their frozen sections. The garlic granules are a must have.
5. Store Bought Smart Snacks
Ok we all know what the 'bad' choices are but don't be fooled by the 'health isle' either. Marketing is a wonderful thing and big companies employ big people and spend big money to get you to buy the stuff....even if that means twisting the words.
Scan these words: Organic, HomeMade, Whole food, Nutrient Rich, Superfood, Natural, Raw, Gluten Free, Vegan....They all sound good for you right?
Well sadly, no. Even I have been duped before but some of these bars and snacks have more sugar than a normal mars bar. I agree, those words above generally mean there is much less processing involved compared to conventional chocolate and that the ingredients are for the most part (not always) more natural but the key point is that it's still to be eaten in moderation!
Some simple suggestions:
- A piece of fruit and some nuts
- Pip and Nut Butter Packets
- Plain whole yogurt with some berries
- A small packet of dried mango (check label for no sugar, most stores have them now) with some nuts
- Naked Bars / Bounce Balls / Fulfil Bars / Quest / Protein balls etc - all fine but keep tabs on these. Don't assume you can eat double because they're 'healthy'
6. Quick Cooking
I have touched on some of these above but this sections summarises my top methods of cooking for a quick and easy option when you're really stuck.
- Eggs - boiled, omelette, scrambled, fried, poached. Always such an easy fix no matter time of day.
- Nutri Bullet for all your smoothie needs.
- A Slow Cooker or even a large pot to make an abundance of easy meals for the week like curry, chilli, soup.....
- Stir Fries - a great way to get extra veg in too!
- One tray & bulk cooking - Got the oven on? Why not stick more food in than just dinner! Fill one side with roasted vegetables and the other with 4-6 chicken fillets and you've got dinner and 4 meals sorted.
- Tin foil - Another oven made meal: get some tin foil and in the middle put some fish/chicken and surround with vegetable of choice. Drizzle with oil/salt/herbs of choice and seal the parcel in a boat shape. Make a few and put all in the oven for 30 minutes. Same trick - lunch for the week sorted!
- Peckish? Once you pop you can't stop? Grab a muffin tray with 6 spaces. Fill each with different snacks; nuts, seeds, baby tomatoes, peppers, carrots etc
7. Super Quick Meals
And finally if cooking methods aren't enough, you can take inspiration from the below:
- Chia seed pudding
- Overnight oats
- Sliced apple and almond butter
- Pizza - yes I said it. Well kinda...corn tortilla is your base, add toppings of choice
- Frozen Grapes
- Frozen Banana chopped into pieces drizzled with some dark chocolate and frozen
- Par baked sweet potato with an egg. Bake sweet potato whole in the oven for 30 minutes or until you can pierce with a fork. Remove from oven, slice in half, make a little hole in the middle and crack an egg. Stick back in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Salmon/prawn skewers - amazing how a stick can spruce something up
My favourite Kitchen Items for Quick & Easy:
Et Voila! Bon Appetit!